Manchester City

Manchester City Might Have the Ideal Manager to Deal with Jose Mourinho

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini, right, and Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Monday Feb. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)
Clint Hughes/Associated Press
Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

No matter what Jose Mourinho says these days, it is immediately classed as "mind games." Says his own team are rubbish—mind games. Says someone else's team are rubbish—mind games. Says he's just off to the shops to buy some milk—mind games.

The brunt of these "mind games" at present seems to be Manuel Pellegrini. The pair have something of a history together, stretching back from when Mourinho took over from Pellegrini as Real Madrid manager.

Pellegrini, of course, then took the Malaga job and upon their first meeting, Mourinho was rather scathing about his predecessor, claiming that finishing second (where Pellegrini had with Real) was "first loser" and, as quoted by ESPN: "If Madrid were to fire me, I wouldn't go to Malaga. I'd go to a top-level team in Italy or England."

Other digs at the Chilean's ribs have followed since from Mourinho, but Pellegrini has generally retained a slightly more dignified silence than his counterpart.

Indeed, after they both arrived in England this season, Pellegrini was asked about his rivalry with the Chelsea manager. As quoted by Sky Sports, he said:

I don't know him (Mourinho). We worked in Spain, I worked at another club. I don't have any complaint about him. Maybe we have a different way of thinking about this life. I never get involved and I will not get involved now.

Indeed, that response seems typical of Pellegrini's low-key style. It's almost as if Mourinho sees it as a personal challenge to get something out of his rival, to elicit some sort of response because he seems impervious to whatever Mourinho throws at him.

In that respect, he might be the perfect man to go up against Mourinho, because he simply doesn't react— he won't let anything Mourinho says get under his skin or have any impact on his team.

It's not just towards Mourinho that Pellegrini is reticent. Journalists enter his press conferences with a heavy heart, knowing that they are extremely unlikely to get a headline quote out of him, no matter how hard they try. Mark Ogden from the Daily Telegraph tweeted recently:

The man known as "The Engineer" has built a wall around himself that hasn't yet been penetrated and indeed he explicitly stated this week that he would not get drawn into Mourinho's "mind games" too much. As quoted by Sky Sports, he said:

He (Mourinho) started talking about referees and Financial Fair Play, I don't think it is the way to go about things. I will not continue every week talking about things that for me are not important.

These are not mind games because I don't think managers can be affected by those kind of things, but I will not answer any more on Mourinho.

Manchester City may have lost to Chelsea and couldn't break Norwich down in their last outing, but they are still just two points behind Mourinho's side and, perhaps more importantly, they have a manager who won't be drawn into whatever games the Chelsea manager is playing. Mind or otherwise.

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